Planning your trip
Whether you prefer the ease of resorts or the bliss of a deserted island, our specialists have the first-hand knowledge of the Caribbean to provide the logistical advice and plan a trip that works for you. We work closely with our local partners in The Bahamas to keep up to date with country developments and visit regularly ourselves.
Visa & passport requirements
UK citizens are allowed to visit The Bahamas without a visa for up to 21 days. If you’re arriving through the USA, you may need to apply for an ESTA. Passports must be valid for six months from the date of departure from The Bahamas.
US citizens are allowed to visit The Bahamas without a visa for 90 days, but require a valid US passport and documents to prove anticipated departure from The Bahamas. US citizens will also need at least two clear passport pages.
Citizens of other countries should check their relevant visa requirements.
There’s currently no risk of yellow fever or malaria in The Bahamas, but other insect-borne diseases such as dengue fever been known to occur. The US and UK health authorities have classified The Bahamas as having a risk of Zika virus transmission, so it’s imperative to protect yourself from mosquito bites with adequate clothing and insect repellent.
What to pack
Despite the usual balmy temperatures, the evenings can get cool December to February, so be sure to pack an extra layer. Many of the casinos, fine restaurants, and some of the more luxurious hotels ban shorts and flip-flops, so pack accordingly.
Additionally, wearing swim suits to walk through the streets of central Nassau is considered inappropriate. Out Islands like Eleuthera and Harbour Island generally have a more casual dress code, but that’s not universal so be sure to check with any restaurants you wish to visit.
The country voltage is 120V and 60Hz, with a two flat-pin parallel plug.
English is the official language of The Bahamas, and is spoken widely across the country and used in all official communications. Additionally, many Bahamians speak Bahamian Creole, an English-based creole that shares roots with the Gullah language of South Carolina.
Money & tipping
The official currency in The Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar ($B), which is equivalent in value to the US dollar. In fact, visitors may use either Bahamian dollars or US dollars. All-inclusive resorts and key tourist areas accept major credit and debit cards, and you can withdraw currency from the ATMs, but these are relatively rare on the Out Islands, so it’s worth coming prepared. Many smaller hotels and restaurants on the Out Islands will also not accept credit cards.
Service staff and hotel workers expect to be tipped. A service charge of around 15% is usually automatically added to the bill in many hotels and restaurants. If the service charge hasn’t been automatically added, then it’s customary to leave 15-20% depending on the quality of the service you received.
For other service workers, we suggest tipping porters $1-2 per bag, cleaning staff $2 per room per day and taxi drivers $1-2 for short trips, with a small increase for longer journeys. A driver from the airport should get $2-3 per couple, while long trips with drivers should be tipped $5-$8 per couple.
A private tour with a drive and guide is tipped per couple — aim for $8-10 for a half-day tour and $12-15 for one that takes a full day.
On the larger islands, it’s easy for you to walk to most of the restaurants, and many of the hotels offer beach shuttles if their stretch of beach is a little further away. The airport on Nassau is a short, 20 – 30-minute drive from the main hotels in the city and your specialist will arrange a private airport transfer for you.
The Out Islands, such as Eleuthera and Harbour Island, are easily to reach by a 30-minute flight in a small plane from Nassau. There, taxis are readily available to transport you to any destination on the island. Additionally, you can hire golf buggies at many of the hotels on Harbour Island. There are also regular water taxis between the smaller islands that run multiple times daily.
Keeping in touch
The phone code for The Bahamas is +242. Check with your phone provider before departure to discuss international packages if necessary. High-speed internet is widely available and you’ll find ample Wi-Fi hotspots on the main islands. Coverage can be spotty on the smaller Out Islands, but all hotels should have Wi-Fi capabilities.
Customs & etiquette
For the most part, Bahamians attend church on Sunday mornings and most businesses will be closed on Sundays — some even close on Saturday afternoons after the busy morning. Beaches can get busy on Sunday afternoons, when many locals enjoy Sunday picnic lunches with family.
Food & drink
The Bahamas has a mix of fine-dining restaurants and local Bahamian food stalls. Many menus feature a fusion of Bahamian and international dishes.
The archipelago’s best-known ingredient is conch. The oversized shellfish is prepared in myriad ways: ceviche-style with lime; ‘cracked’, or pounded thin and deep fried; and cooked in a rich curry and served with pigeon peas and rice.
Keep an eye out for the local fish fry, where you can enjoy freshly caught seafood served in traditional ways. Small cafés and snack shacks serve fried fish (usually red snapper), jonnycakes (flat corn bread), rock lobster and souse, a traditional Bahamian stew of meat and vegetables.
Rum is a popular tipple in The Bahamas and across the Caribbean. While you’re in Nassau, you can learn more about the process and history of rum on a cultural tour that includes a stop at John Watling's Distillery. Rum is a main ingredient in many local cocktails, including both the Bahama mama and goombay smash.
Events, holidays & festivals
The New Year is welcomed in with a vibrant Junkanoo parade reminiscent of Rio’s Carnival, with competing groups of dancers who sport lavish costumes and dance to the beat of a rake and scrape band. Junkanoo parades also happen on Boxing Day, Emancipation Day (in June) and Independence Day (in August).
Easter is widely observed and Good Friday is marked with church services in the morning. Be prepared for the closure of many of local shops, restaurants and cafés during this period. Easter Monday marks the start of the beach picnic season and you’ll find local enjoying picnics in public parks as well as regattas in the Out Islands.
- 1st January – New Year’s Day
- 10th January – Majority Rule Day
- Friday before Easter Sunday – Good Friday
- Monday after Easter Sunday – Easter Monday
- Seventh Monday after Easter Sunday – Whit Monday
- First Friday in June – Randol Fawkes Labour Day
- 10th July – Independence Day
- First Monday in August – Emancipation Day
- Second Monday in October – National Heroes Day
- 25th December – Christmas Day
- 26th December – Boxing Day
You’ll find a broad range of hotel options in The Bahamas. The city-island of Nassau is home, primarily, to large and renowned resorts with a wide range of amenities and activities. There are also a handful of smaller, independent choices on the Out Islands like Eleuthera and Harbour Island, where your options include in a whitewashed villa with a manicured lawn or safari-style glamping tents.
We’ve hand-picked a wide selection, so you’re likely to find something that suits you, whether you’re a family looking for plenty of activities and pool time or a honeymooning couple looking for a secluded retreat.
Our certified country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Canadian Government Travel & Tourism website.
When to go to The Bahamas
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to The Bahamas.
3 hours 15 minutes (Toronto to Nassau)